Thursday, August 23, 2012

Show No Mercy

Files, email, conference calls, meetings, stacks of paper, phone calls, tweets, voice mail messages, and on and on and on. Sometimes work can become so...well...routine...that we forget just how impactful human resources can be.

One of the most important, and often most stressful roles HR plays, has to do with employee terminations. During those difficult times it's important to remember that regardless of how stressful the moment is for the HR practitioner (which other than an employee death, terminations are the worst part of HR); we must not perceive separation meetings as an opportunity to punish.

Impersonal Is Best
I'm not sure who originally advised HR leaders to only "stick to the facts" or "remain professional and somewhat distant regardless of how emotional things get." I get it, but maintaining our professionalism is supposed to happen all the time right?

I guess my definition of professional includes the "human" part of human resources. For example, I believe it's perfectly appropriate to acknowledge how difficult the situation is, particularly for the employee who is losing their position. It's a fact, isn't it?

How About You
Have you ever been released from a position? Maybe it was from a unfortunate mistake, or a reduction in force, or perhaps you were caught up in the recent economic chaos. Whatever the reason, if you've had to sit in the other chair during a separation meeting, you fully realize that how the message is delivered can be extremely important.

Separation meetings are not HR power trips. In fact, they are one of the rare moments HR practitioners can show a sensitive side of themselves despite the difficult and complicated circumstances involved.

What do you think?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit


  1. Jay Shepherd has a great book on this topic: Firing At Will.
    It is a gift to everyone to end a working relationship that isn't working--even if it doesn't feel like that at the time. Terminations should be discussed with compassion, grace and kindness. Severance always helps too.

    1. Thanks Heather. I agree...even though they can be difficult, sometimes they are the best for everyone. Managing that message effectively is key!